Maria T. Chao, DrPH, MPA

Associate Director of Research, UCSF Osher Center
Associate Director for Health Equity and Diversity, UCSF Osher Center
Associate Professor, UCSF School of Medicine


Maria T. Chao, DrPH, MPA is Associate Professor of Medicine in the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital; and core faculty and Associate Director of Research at the UCSF Osher Center. She is also the Associate Director for Health Equity and Diversity at the Osher Center.

Dr. Chao’s overarching research goal is to investigate how complementary and integrative medicine can advance health equity. Her current program of research focuses on non-pharmacologic approaches to improve quality of life among diverse and underserved populations living with chronic conditions. Her recent studies aim to: (1) rigorously test integrative approaches to address the undertreatment of pain in diverse patient populations; and (2) apply health services research and implementation frameworks to broaden access to evidence-based integrative medicine. This includes:

  • Piloting an integrative pain management program at the Tom Waddell Urban Health Clinic in the Tenderloin, the San Francisco neighborhood with the greatest concentration of deaths related to prescription pain medications;
  • Designing, implementing, and evaluating group-based acupuncture for low-income, racially and linguistically diverse patients with painful diabetic neuropathy;
  • Conducting a pilot cluster randomized trial of a culturally-sensitive, nutritional counseling that leverages Chinese medical food principles with biomedically-sound nutrition recommendations for type 2 diabetes;
  • Conducting a pragmatic randomized clinical trial of adjunctive acupuncture for symptom management among inpatients; and
  • Testing non-pharmacologic approaches to pain and symptom distress for hospitalized cancer patients.

Dr. Chao received doctoral training in public health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences and postdoctoral training in integrative medicine research at UCSF. Her research bridging public health and integrative medicine is nationally recognized. Her work has received funding support through the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, numerous foundations, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

She currently serves on the steering committees for the Integrative Pain Management Program of the San Francisco Health Network and the Bravenet Practice-based Research Network in Integrative Medicine. She is on the Board of Directors and co-chair of the Research Committee of Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4Us), a national multi-disciplinary organization committed to affordable, accessible integrative health care for all.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email